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The Selfishness of Selflessness

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posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 11:48 AM
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Originally posted by Welfhard
The reason you do this is that you hope that someday when you find yourself in similar situations, other people will be ‘nice’ and help you out.


Well, that may be the reason you do selfless acts. I don't put too much faith in people. I expect nothing from them. Let them act how they want to act. I am selfless at times, because I like helping people and it makes me happy to make someone else happy. It's as simple as that for me.

It's selfish in a certain regard, because me helping someone, benefits me in some way(makes me happy), so I can see your point there. But, it's a simple matter really, and it goes a little something like this...

Treat others as you would like to be treated.

^ That's pretty simple eh? Yeah...now, try applying it to your life, and witness how something so simple, can become so complex.

Edit to add:

Imagine a parent sacrificing their life to donate their healthy heart to their ill child. Such a sacrifice would be well worth it.


Well, I won't say "well worth it"...not just yet anyway. Anyone doing such an act, is doing it in hope that it's well worth it. The only time you'll really know if it's well worth it, is knowing what that child does with his/hers life & to the lives of others. Therefore, you the doner, may never really know if it was well worth it. And I'm stating this with the supposition that the doner puts all emotion aside.

[edit on 28-3-2009 by sdrawkcabII]




posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 11:49 AM
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Double Post!

[edit on 28-3-2009 by sdrawkcabII]



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 11:49 AM
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reply to post by Welfhard
 




...They'd be more likely to help others to repay society (on the large scale) for the good done unto them...


this is something that I've always believed myself - it's not going to be something that works in every instance, but by showing someone else even a small act of kindness I think it goes towards encouraging others to do the same if and when they're able

and as far as selflessness also being selfish - sometimes I do nice things not just because i want to help someone - which I do

I think sometimes I do it because I just need to believe that it's possible - I need to affirm my own belief that there are in fact people who will help other people

If I can do it - I know I can't be the only one :-)

a small thing, but it helps



I think a major problem is that the principle seems to break down in large populaces. We all know that as a rule of thumb that small towns are friendlier than cities. People smile, say "good morning" when they go by, let you into traffic. But in a city, such behaviour seems bizarre and unusual, everyone is 'supposed' to act completely autonomously. If I'm right then the reason humanity is so apparently evil and 'selfish' (in the immediate sense) is that human social dynamics simply do not work large scale, practically. In theory, sure, but not in practise.


I agree with this up to a point - in smaller communities people are more familiar with each other and have more of a shared experience

but I've noticed that when it comes down to it, if there's a crisis - the need for distance can disappear and people are there for each other even if they're complete strangers

I know that there's also the other side of that coin - but I think we see more people willing to help others than hurt in those situations

[edit on 3/28/2009 by Spiramirabilis]



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 11:57 AM
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just wanted to give my .02
i try and do nice things, to make someone else feel good. i get more enjoyment out of making someone else happy. but i guess in the end it does give me a good feeling, so it is for me too. I would never expect anything in return, but ive never really needed anything either, so that could change based on circumstance.



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 12:01 PM
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Originally posted by sdrawkcabII
Well, that may be the reason you do selfless acts. I don't put too much faith in people. I expect nothing from them. Let them act how they want to act.


Yes well I don't expect anything from strangers either, I don't know them. In my mind, all people are scum until proven otherwise.


But, it's a simple matter really, and it goes a little something like this...

Treat others as you would like to be treated.

^ That's pretty simple eh? Yeah...now, try applying it to your life, and witness how something so simple, can become so complex.


Yes the golden rule, aka man's first moral. Coined 500 B.C. by Confucius if I recall correctly. Never much cared for it myself. The assumption that everyone actually wants to be treated like me is a bit self-centred. Imagine a masochist applying the golden rule. No here's a better one:

Treat others as they would like to be treated.


Well, I won't say "well worth it"...not just yet anyway. Anyone doing such an act, is doing it in hope that it's well worth it. The only time you'll really know if it's well worth it, is knowing what that child does with his/hers life & to the lives of others. Therefore, you the doner, may never really know if it was well worth it. And I'm stating this with the supposition that the doner puts all emotion aside.


Well yes and no. I actually meant to say "considered well worth it" But most parent's will sacrifice (not necessarily their lives) for their children regardless of what the child does with their life. This is the 'unconditional' part of the relationship.

[edit on 28-3-2009 by Welfhard]



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 12:09 PM
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Originally posted by Spiramirabilis
and as far as selflessness also being selfish - sometimes I do nice things not just because i want to help someone - which I do


Bam, right there is the selfish part of selflessness. My point is that if people generally didn't get anything out of helping others, you would not see it. And that every selfless act has a portion of 'I do it for me' whether it's recognised or not. You notice that we people are nice and act selflessly, they smile? They enjoy it, which is an essential part of charity.


I agree with this up to a point - in smaller communities people are more familiar with each other and have more of a shared experience

Yes, and that's why it works better in smaller/less open communities.

[edit on 28-3-2009 by Welfhard]



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 12:13 PM
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I had this debate with a friend the other day. My reasoning led me to a wonderful epiphany.

Our ideas about altruism and selfishness are flawed.

The difference between "altruism" as it were, and selfishness, is that a selfish person pursues their own goals regardless of the cost to those around them.

An altruistic person, on the other hand, pursues their goals in harmony, or conjunction with the goals of those around them.


See, its all about our level of awareness of our impact on others, and our desire to take responsibility for that impact or not. All our actions may be to serve the highest goal, which is to be true to ourselves, however one manner of pursuit is destructive, and the other is creative!



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 12:22 PM
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Originally posted by pexx421
See, its all about our level of awareness of our impact on others, and our desire to take responsibility for that impact or not. All our actions may be to serve the highest goal, which is to be true to ourselves, however one manner of pursuit is destructive, and the other is creative!


Eh, I'm gunna agree in general with what you're saying, but I think you're missing out a very important grey area in between.

As I've said, I pretty much see every act of will as selfish, the difference is the way it effects others, that it makes more logical sense to do things that are beneficial for lots of people than just yourself.

There is an internal balance in each person between competition and cooperation, which I see as the two sides of the one selfish coin. Some people are just more skewed to the competitive side (selfish) and others to the cooperative side (altruistic).

[edit on 28-3-2009 by Welfhard]



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 12:31 PM
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Do for others as you would have them do for you.

The good that I do is not to bring glory to myself, but to glorify the divine creator who has already given me a reward which I do not deserve. By grace I have been saved through faith. From a greatful and thankful heart I seek to do good.

We, as humans, have the knowledge of truth, justice, righteousness, love, and humility from which proceed acts of kindness, goodness, self sacrifice, generousity and charity. These are not owned by any one religion. They are given to us for guiding our hearts and minds, that our thoughts be true and our actions right.



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 12:34 PM
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Originally posted by John Matrix
The good that I do is not to bring glory to myself, but to glorify the divine creator who has already given me a reward which I do not deserve. By grace I have been saved through faith. From a greatful and thankful heart I seek to do good.


...Way to wreck the party, kill joy. Are you people completely incapable of original thought, I ask you?

[edit on 28-3-2009 by Welfhard]



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 12:41 PM
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.............. Of course perhaps I am approaching this whole line of thought from the wrong side. Perhaps we do what we do purely to minimise anguish.

Simply put, I do bad things to you, then you'll do bad things to me = mutually assured destruction.

Perhaps we instinctually cooperate because 10s of thousands of years ago, all those who did bad things to one another died out strait away, and left those who played happily amongst themselves to develop into the entire human race.

Maybe we don't strictly cooperate in the pursuit of making our lives nice and happy but just to avoid misery.

[edit on 28-3-2009 by Welfhard]



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 12:41 PM
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On Giving
Kahlil Gibran

You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?
And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?
And what is fear of need but need itself?
Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, the thirst that is unquenchable?

There are those who give little of the much which they have--and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.
And there are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.
And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;
They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.
Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.

It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding;
And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving.
And is there aught you would withhold?
All you have shall some day be given;
Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors'.

You often say, "I would give, but only to the deserving."
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights, is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.
And what desert greater shall there be, than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?
And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?
See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.
For in truth it is life that gives unto life while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.

And you receivers... and you are all receivers... assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.
Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings;
For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the freehearted earth for mother, and God for father.



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 12:44 PM
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So there you have it. It is only our ego that makes us believe we are givers, when in fact it is life giving to life, while we are but a witness. I DO believe that some people through meditation and introspection become more able to surrender their will and allow the universe to act through them, but for most of us, it is just an unconscious impulse that we can justify in whatever way we need to.
There was a recent study i found in neuro science that concluded that humans are hardwired for empathy, so perhaps its just in our genes.



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 12:50 PM
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reply to post by pexx421
 


There was a recent study i found in neuro science that concluded that humans are hardwired for empathy, so perhaps its just in our genes.


Well you'd expect so, such emotions are essential for the survival of the next generation These same emotions and behaviours based thereon will be reinforced generation after generation after generation.

If it's beneficial then it's likely to be ingrained into what we are as evolved organisms.



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 01:03 PM
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"As a child I understood how to give, I have forgotten this grace since I have become civilized."
-Luther Standing Bear, Oglala


"It was our belief that the love of possessions is a weakness to be overcome. Its appeal is to the material part, and if allowed its way, it will in time disturb one's spiritual balance. Therefore, children must early learn the beauty of generosity. They are taught to give what they prize most, that they may taste the happiness of giving."
-Ohiyesa (Charles Alexander Eastman) - Wahpeton Santee Sioux


"If a child is inclined to be grasping, or to cling to any of his or her little possessions, legends are related about the contempt and disgrace falling upon the ungenerous and mean person...."
-Ohiyesa (Charles Alexander Eastman) - Wahpeton Santee Sioux



[edit on 28-3-2009 by pai mei]



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 01:03 PM
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Originally posted by pexx421
There was a recent study i found in neuro science that concluded that humans are hardwired for empathy, so perhaps its just in our genes.



It may be hard wired. If that is the case, empathy still needs to be nurtured and developed. Personal bias and prejudices cause empathy to be selectively applied.



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 01:14 PM
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I veiw myself as one of the many perspective in this universe and i accept all other perspective as being me as well. Allowing myself to walk a mile in another person perspective has been named empathy. I will feel my actions from every perspective i come in contact with and many i have only imagined.

When you are empathic its not so much a choice to feel someones emotions but more like your sense of smell. You can plug your nose and you can use mental distractions as an equivilant, but there are still those moments where there is no time to prepare.

Although it hurts me when others are hurt or makes me happy when others are happy, if i see myself as others can it be called selfish? A selfish act towards your own infinite universal body?



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 01:24 PM
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Originally posted by The Lass

Charity, in the Christian sense, expects no rewards at all.

It's not charity in the sense of benevolent giving, the more typical use of the word nowadays. It's more your outlook on life, a generally loving and kindly demeanour, patient, knowing your own place in the world and seeking not to take advantage of others. I see it in terms of glimpsing a little bit of God in everyone, no matter their circumstances, and recognising in oneself that a generous, unselfish act is really best kept between yourself and your Maker. And also too that any reward comes not in this life but the next.



Isnt expecting a reward in the next life still expecting a reward?

I am not bashing your view, but just pointing out the logic. If you are doing something because God asks or requires it of you, then it is not unselfish. It is still a selfish act, because it is done to please or satisfy God so that you both escape punishment and receive reward.

Even in the more Buddhist view, where all is ONE and there is no separate God, your compassion is still selfish. You are now doing it because the "other" that you are helping is also "you."

I suppose the only way one could commit a truly selfless act would be an atheist who was also a hermit, who just happened upon someone who needed a hand and gave it to them. Even though they thought it was a horrible bother and annoyance (so as to not be rewarded by "feeling good.") He or she would be expecting no reward in terms of help later, nor reward in heaven.

Perhaps only the non spiritual and non social can be truly selfless.



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 01:29 PM
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[edit on 28-3-2009 by Wertdagf]



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 01:34 PM
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reply to post by Wertdagf
 


It's sort of a grey area. You could argue that we people do things for their own good and are not concerned with what others get, it's selfish- even if others benefited from the event.

It's the pursuit of self that is selfish, regardless of how many people benefit.
It's the pursuit of other's that is selfless, regardless of how many people benefit.









 
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